Leeds United have stepped up their interest in Leo Hjelde by opening talks with the teenage Norwegian defender (DM).

Hjelde signed for Ross County on loan in January and then-manager John Hughes hailed the versatile 17-year-old as ‘the next Virgil Van Dijk.’ While the lofty comparisons to the £75 million Liverpool defender did bring attention, Leeds United interest has been present for over six months.

Hjelde is wanted by Leeds United.

Hjelde is wanted by Leeds United. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Hughes had to fend off Leeds United to land Hjelde from Celtic on loan in January, but now Marcelo Bielsa’s side have entered discussions again with County’s former star. He featured regularly at left-back and centre-back as the cinch Premiership side achieved league safety last term.

County were open to signing Hjelde on loan again this season under Hughes but have made no such moves under new manager Malky Mackay yet. Ross County defender Coll Donaldson said in May that Hjelde was destined for the top.

 

He said: “Leo has been great. You have to look at his age. He is only 17 years of age. It’s quite easy to forget that because he doesn’t really play like a 17-year-old. It’s his first experience of men’s football and it’s a relegation battle.

SPL Scottish Premier League Headshots - Season 2020/21

Donaldson backs Hjelde for success down south. (Photo by Ken Macpherson/MB Media/Getty Images)

“It’s the hardest challenge to come into. But I think that is the type of player he is. He’s very confident in his own ability and he’s played different positions. He’ll have a bright future if he continues to play the way he is doing. I can remember playing first-team football at 18 and sometimes you think it’s quite easy.

“There will be challenges along the way but he’s done great. Leo will do what’s best for him. He’ll have his family and agent and he’ll decide whether or not he wants to try it down south.”

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